A large scale study reveals a massive population decline of ortolan bunting, due to traditional hunting mainly in France. The study led by the Institute for Ecology and Evolution of the University of Bern, partnered with an international science team, studied the migration and demographic of the famous songbird (Emberiza hortulana).
Why this is important. The species is near extinction in Northern and Western Europe – in Switzerland the number dwindled to less than twenty. In France the songbird is considered a delicacy and despite its banishment from restaurant’s menus in 1999, its hunting never stopped. Around 30’000 birds are killed every summer in the southwest of France. In December 2016, the European Commission indicted France before the European Court of Justice for breaching the regulations of the Birds Directive.